How I Learned to Dance
by Bennett Durkan


On television I had watched bones dance,
black and white, background still.
Some skeletons swap skulls
and glide to the side,
while others tickle xylophone ribs.

I recall the cartoon as she tugs my hand.
I know the steps but my joints are stiff.
She smiles through my mistakes
as her laughter surrounds us,
like red leaves in autumn.

Although I try to hide it,
I know the dance will only last the night.
Shuffling, feet suddenly heavy,
my eyes dart everywhere but forward,
my rubber soles squeak on a hard wooden floor.

Winter comes.
Christmas trees shine through the windows
blinking in reds and blues and greens.
Stop-motion movies show all month,
clay elves and misfit toys
waltz on plastic ice.
I know she dances somewhere
months away.

Streets are cold, empty and still,
filled with tunes which flow like garlands
and hang from front doors like wreathes.
Houses are enclosed, warm and separated.






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